Comedy Central is going to stage the mother of all marketing stunts here in Washington -- oh wait, Fox News Channel already did that.
Well, anyway, the Viacom-owned network will launch the second mother of all marketing stunts in Washington on Oct. 30 when both its late-night hosts, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, host opposing rallies on the Mall.
"The Daily Show's" Jon Stewart announced on his show Thursday night his Rally to Restore Sanity -- "a rally for the people who've been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) -- not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority." The rally will be held, Stewart's camp said, "to beg America to stop shouting, throwing and drawing Hitler mustaches on people other than Hitler (or Charlie Chaplin)."
Immediately thereafter, "The Colbert Report's," um, Colbert, announced his Keep Fear Alive rally, with instructions to "pack an overnight bag with five extra sets of underwear -- you're going to need them. Because to Restore Truthiness we must always ... Shh!!! What's that sound?! I think there's someone behind you! Run!"
Comedy Central promises the Rally Rivalry will be "bigger than Nixon/Kennedy, Ali/Foreman, Aniston/Jolie, 50 Cent/Nas, Joe/The Volcano, Alien/Predator, Bunny/Fudd and Ecks/Sever combined."
But both men are operating in the shadow of FNC's prime-time talking head Glenn Beck, who, back in July, announced that he would, on Aug. 28, stage a "Restoring Honor" rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Imagine Beck's surprise when he discovered that was the same day Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech at the Lincoln Memorial 47 years earlier.
We've discovered a permit application was indeed submitted for the Rally Rivalry, on Sept. 8 to the National Park Service by Minassian Media, Comedy Central, and Chris Wane and Associates.
While the permit has not yet been issued, "we do not see any hugely outstanding issues that would prevent or bar the signing of a permit," Bill Line, spokesman for the National Park Service, told WaPo TeamTV's Mall Rally Correspondent, David Montgomery.
The permit application modestly estimates a crowd of just 25,000 people. Comedy Central apparently does not think there are very many people with a sense of humor living within a reasonable commute of the Mall. According to press reports, about 87,000 people showed up for Beck's rally -- though Beck on his show dismissed that number as pure horseradish and told his viewers they should believe no one but him and he says the number was hooey, and to believe only his estimate. He said "a minimum of 500,000" people came to his rally which, he added, was "the sixth-largest gathering" on the Mall, ever and approximately the same sized crowd as had come to the Mall for that other defining moment:
"Ronald Reagan's inauguration."
The Stewart/Colbert permit application is for the north side of the Washington Monument grounds, which does not include the Lincoln Memorial, Reflecting Pool or what is known as the National Mall, Line says, what with the Monument grounds being bounded by Constitution, Independence, 15th and 17th, and the north side is the side toward Constitution.
On the other hand, he also said the Park Service and applicants are negotiating details as we write. Line declined to discuss specifics of those negotiations.
Watch the Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announcements here:
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c Rally to Restore Sanity
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party
The Colbert Report Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c March to Keep Fear Alive
Colbert Report Full Episodes 2010 Election Fox News